Athletes and coaches adapt to new rules and timelines

athletics starting up amidst pandemic

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Photo Courtesy of Truong-An Nguyen-Tan

Masks Up: The football team practices social distancing while doing their conditioning exercises on the field.

Alex Bussey, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Senior Robert Queirolo anticipated having one last wrestling season with his team, but Covid-19 has left all athletes unsure of what sports will look like this year.  While a few sports have started conditioning, official practices won’t start until December, and, even then, competition schedules are still up in the air, leaving many athletes wondering if they’ll still get something that resembles the season they pictured.

“I was looking forward to one last season with my team and one final season of competition,” Queirolo said.

As wrestling is a full-contact sport, risk of disease-transmission is high even without the added pressure of a pandemic.  During a regular season, the wrestling team already has to sanitize their mats before every practice and meet to protect against skin diseases such as ringworm and even herpes.  But will that regular sanitation be enough to keep Covid at bay once the team starts practicing together?

“It’s a very contact sport,” Queirolo said.  “Would I love to wrestle? Absolutely, but only if we can find new ways to sanitize and stay safe.”

Socially-Distant: Cross country runners Lalaine DelaCruz, Autumn Kong and Angelina Morga jog down Whistler Way during conditioning. Photo courtesy of Truong-An Nguyen-Tan

All teams that have started conditioning require athletes to complete a daily health survey form to show their coach at the start of practice.  If students have any symptoms on the list, they are required to stay home until they are symptom-free.  Athletes are put into pods of 12 or fewer for workouts, and if anyone in a pod comes into contact with Covid, the whole pod has to stay home and quarantine for two weeks or until the original contact point receives a negative test. 

Per school policy, athletes must wear masks at all times unless they are engaging in heavy exercise, in which case they must stay at least six feet apart. Any gear necessary to practice is to be put on beforehand, in order to limit overcrowding in normal changing areas. 

Since it has been nearly eight months since the quarantine began, gyms have been closed and teams haven’t been practicing, many athletes have struggled to stay in shape.

“During the actual quarantine period, I couldn’t do much,” water polo player Jordan Whaland, a junior, said. “I did workouts at home. Now that restrictions have eased, I’ve been able to condition at St. Mary’s [with a club team].”

Water polo has started conditioning now, even though the regular season doesn’t start until December, meaning athletes will have to jump into the pool in forty-degree weather.  But colder water isn’t the only change: athletes don’t know if they will be able to compete at tournaments, which bring together dozens of teams from all over Northern California.

Illustration by Truong-Anh Nguyen-Tan

“I was most looking forward to tournaments with my team,” varsity water polo player Leila Powers, a senior, said.  “I feel like the season isn’t going to be the same.”

The women’s water polo team usually competes in three tournaments each season, and most players agree that tournaments provide players and teams the best competitive opportunities.

The official season for cross country, soccer, water polo, badminton, and football is set to start in December, but decisions about competitions will not be made until the season gets closer.

“We don’t know what the county will decide,” Athletic Director Darcy Altheide said.  “We’re fortunate because all of the schools in our league are in the same county.”

Having the whole league in the same county means that teams won’t have to interact with athletes from other counties, which could increase the risk of teams being exposed to Covid.

 Even with competitions up in the air, athletes are eager to get back to regular practices and start competing.

“I’m most looking forward to being able to actually compete in meets,” cross country runner Jeremy Lapham, a junior, said.  “I’m down for full practices once the school allows it.”

A Different Practice: JV Cheer captain Mea Alamillo, a sophomore, joins a virtual team practice from her bedroom. Photo courtesy of Mea Alamillo

Cheer coach Jennifer Barberis has been sending out recordings of the routines for the cheerleaders to practice at home before official virtual practices start, but the team has had to cut all stunts from their routines because they can’t practice them together.

“It was very difficult for me to figure out,” Barberis said.  “We’ve lost all the bonding we normally have.”

Cheerleaders agree that this season is very different from previous seasons.

“What I miss most about cheer right now is performing during halftime,” varsity cheerleader Analisa Jerue, a senior, said.  “I also miss our in-person practices because we always had so much fun at them.”

Contributors: Jenessa Serrano (Staff Writer), Dominic Navarro (Staff Writer), Eileen Tran (Art Editor, Social Media Editor) and Truong-Ahn Nguyen-Tan (Staff Writer).